As an update to this. I had my first discussion yesterday. Less than half the students showed up. (But, I figure, I am not going to sweat the people who don't put in even the minimal effort).
I put a lot of effort into the handouts I gave, and decided that instead of e-mailing a lot of information and suggestions in smaller chunks, I would put them into physical handouts that I print out.
The format I used was:
1) Answer basic questions the students had.
2) Give them a basic, general knowledge based, problem to work out, under a 10 min. time limit.
3) Have one of the students who got it explain how to do it on the board (or I would do it, if nobody solved it).
4) Solve an example problem based on concepts they should have learned.
5) Have them work on a problem based on similar principles.
6) repeated this a few times.
Everything, that I planned on doing was in the handout I gave them (except the questions answered). At the end, they got my solutions to the problems I had them work in class.
The students seemed significantly more engaged with the material than last quarter. Some were confused about things, but they actually asked questions for clarification.
Note: As far as "efficiency" goes. This is actually taking me longer than what I did last quarter, but I feel like the "effectiveness" has improved. We shall see if the results actually bear this out.
Also, I will be working on my handouts for next week over the weekend. For those interested in helping me improve the quality of these, PM me.