My biggest initiative of the year is a more aggressive approach to Calculus. So far it's been yielding some positive results, but we're still in the early stages. I am pretty impressed with this group so far though.
An issue that was the subject of discussion at TMC was homework. I was having issues with students taking it seriously, the eternal battle. I posted solutions and started making assignments lag, as in, everything had been covered several days previously. It was also weekly to help out the ones who work. I've kept that up with posted solutions through a bit.ly link, and they're making use of it:
Naturally the spikes are the day before and day of the due date. I could write a whole other post on why I'm fine with that.
It was a step in the right direction. There was a little friction in that I was using the textbook for assignments. Part of the problem was finding enough relevant material in the book to make an assignment to my liking. We've recently adopted a new one and it has similar problems.
In 28 exercises I see 3 discrete assignments. It's a drive by of topics, no time to really stop, and an obsession on special cases (B) and theory (C). Solution? Scrap the book. I've taught everything else without for so long I can do it here. Honestly I like it. I'm not dependent on someone else's idea of Calculus curriculum. Plus, if you really really poke around Calculus books, they aren't the most AP aligned things in the universe.
My rationale is that if I'm going to give homework it should be with purpose, and it should be painless. My handmade assignments are short (15 items max) and focused (one topic of concern). I want additional practice, but making them slave away for hours is silly. Based on how long it takes me to make the solutions (and assorted typos), I can't imagine they're taking more than 45 minutes on the things.
Six weeks in with four assignments given, I've got completion percentages of around 90%. It dipped a little bit last week, I suspect other classes taxed them a bit at the end of the grading period. Can I win the fight against senioritis? Maybe.