Understanding Your Grade


Fungible Points

I've already mentioned that points in my class are fungible. That means that you can easily substitute one point for another.

Consider what this means, as it relates to some assignments that you have already done.



Student B


My Favorite Sport
(50 words)




My Family Background
(100 words)








"My Favorite Sport" was a 50-word assignment, which means that it's worth 5 points.

"My Family Background" was a 100-word assignment, which means that it's worth 10 points.

Student A does things "by the book". She earned 5 points on the first assignment, and 10 points on the next assignment, and thus she ended up with full credit.

Student B failed the first assignment by only writing 20 words (instead of the 50 words that were required). But he made up for it on the next assignment by writing an extra 30 words (and earning 3 points of extra credit). Thus, he too ended up with full credit.

Student C is the opposite of Student B. She earned extra credit on the first assignment, but fell short of full points on the next assignment. Still, she ended up with full credit overall.

And that, I hope, illustrates one advantage of a fungible point system: It often doesn't matter how you earn your points, as long as you meet your overall goal. Furthermore, to some extent, you can pick and choose which assignments you're going to spend the most time on.

A fungible point system also makes it easier to work ahead of the class, or to catch up if you've fallen behind.

Did you fail a grammar quiz, for example? That's okay, you can still make it up!

There are many ways to earn extra credit, and so your grade is really up to you.

Of course, there's a limit to how far I'll let you manipulate the system. For example, if you decide that you're going to do nothing this year except read—well, at some point I'm going to tell you: "No more reading points for you. You've read enough. Now I want you to earn some points by doing the writing assignments."

That said, if you write a beautiful, 60,000-word novel, I can almost guarantee that you're going to pass my class, even if you don't do anything else.

Key Point:

Try to keep up with the work that I assign. But if you find that you've fallen behind, keep in mind that there are many ways that you can catch up. And sometimes, it's easier to catch up by writing a "blog post" every day, or something similar, instead of trying to re-take a lot of quizzes. Ask the teacher to help you make a plan.

Instructions for the Quiz

Answer the questions.