I've been batting an idea around in my head for a while to deal with the following problem. Students in AP Calculus need to remember information from (say) August on when they take their exam in May, and students/people have a very hard time recalling information they haven't seen in months even though it may have been "easy" for them in the past.
I don't want to give cumulative exams because I believe:
1. either the students will just shrug their shoulders and give up those "past" problems for lost points,
2. it seems more punative even though it's for their own good
3. I won't be able to cover ALL old topics every time
4. it would only be a (possible) review for students (say) every 2 weeks or so
So my thought is that I want to assign cumulative homework basically every class, and as we are on a block schedule, I'll give them "2" homework assignments each class, one for new material, and one for old. I don't want to have to scramble for old material every time, and I want it to be accessible to the students, so that the review process is not so painful. Here's my germ of an idea:
Have a designated folder on the computer for cumulative work. Have a pre-mapped idea of what we're learning for the whole year (and its timeline) and how many assignments I roughly need. Each time I teach a new topic, I'll have some notion of how many times I want it to appear for all the documents and I want to spread it out, so that day/week, I'll just take the basic problems (?) and cut and paste them into all the appropriate files with an "answer bank" (in some form) on the bottom of the page. It's fresh in my mind since I just taught it, so I don't have to waste time coming up with new problems for them to review. Also as time goes on, the assignments will either be completely filled with problems, so I'll just touch it up and print it out, or it'll need just a wee bit of extra work. I believe I'll also put the date(s) we learned the topic near the problem, and since they'll date their notes ("hey baby, want to go to the math movie tonight?"), then they'll be able to easily flip back and brush up. Also, since the answers will be there, they'll have immediate feedback if they remember the process correctly or not.
I'm also thinking that at the beginning of the year, it'll be slim pickings on "review" material, so I may assign things like (along with a brief tutorial on the page) finding equations of lines given various information, fraction work, factoring work, ... the basics that seem to need extra gentle and not so gentle revisits every year.