Nice post ?
We also use the grid course format in adaptable when the format is set to show "one section per page", it works well doesn't it!
We also use the course contents block (plugin) with that as it improves navigation between course sections.
We disable many other blocks including the Moodle navigation block.
Also check out the adaptable news slider which can be added to the dashboard and course pages to show announcements.
There is a custom block region for the news slider in the theme on course pages.
Also, did you know you can show activity status in the course page itself in adaptable, for example number of quiz attempts, whether assignments have been submitted etc?
I think there are some screen shots on the adaptable plugin page.