The Narrative of Algebra 1


As a first year teacher, I remember struggling to piece together day-by-day lessons and overall just feeling way in over my head. This continued for a few years, and it was especially challenging to figure out how to organize concepts in a way that made sense for my students.

Fast forward 6 years, and I finally feel like I have a pretty firm grasp of Algebra 1. One thing that has helped is the development of a better understanding of the overall big picture of the course. Knowing what the most important concepts are and the overall direction of the course makes it easier to stay focused in the middle of a series of lessons about dividing polynomials.

With this in mind, it’d be nice to help other teachers, like me, who may not be familiar with a subject’s grand narrative as they begin a career or maybe teach a subject for the first time. I’m hoping this video is useful for that purpose. It isn’t meant to show everything that is taught in Algebra 1. Instead, the intention is to clarify the why in the middle of units with puzzling skills and also provide direction with where the course is heading.

Will you help me?

  1. How can this video be improved?
  2. It’d be fun to make similar videos for other courses as well. If you have ideas or can point me to resources to help develop narratives for Geometry, Algebra 2, etc., feel free to leave a comment.


Check out the full list of credits to people, videos, and resources that provided inspiration for the animation and graphics in the video.

Also, I owe Graham Fletcher a big thanks for his progression videos. Great work that led to the story idea. Also, Larry Peterson, along with other MTBoS’ers, mentioned the idea of teaching subjects as stories at some point on Twitter. Thanks Larry!