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Algebra I—Semester A

Invariable fun with variables.

Course Description

Whether it's your saving grace or your worst enemy, there's no getting around it. Algebra is a part of life. The sooner we accept that, the better.

The fact is no matter where you go or what you do, you'll want a functional relationship with algebra. Its graphing skills are off the charts, and it can simplify your life like no other math can. Sure, it might be a bit radical and irrational from time to time, but it isn't half bad if you just give it a chance. Who knows? It might even be the start of an unlikely friendship. (You + Algebra = BFFs.)

Semester A is all about the essence of algebra: mixing numbers with words. And we’ll do it via interactive readings, tons of examples, problem sets, fun activities… well, the list goes on. Needless to say, we’ve got all the Algebra help (and answers) you'll ever need.

In this Common Core-aligned course, we'll

  • take an in-depth look at numbers.
  • dive into word problems and put expressions and equations to good use.
  • learn all there is to know about linear equations and inequalities.
  • take it all to the coordinate plane and put the "fun" in "functions."

P.S. Algebra I is a two-semester course. You're looking at Semester A, but you can check out Semester B here.

Technology Requirements

  • Microsoft Office, Google Docs, or another word processing program
  • A scanner (or access to one)
  • A camera (a camera phone is sufficient)
  • All other work can be done via the Shmoop website.

Required Skills

Proficiency with pre-algebra concepts

Course Breakdown

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    Unit 1. Algebra—Why? Why?!

    We'll start by dusting off the concepts we learned in Pre-Algebra and making sure they're still in working order. We'll also talk about the many, many, many applications of algebra to the real world. Basically, by the end of this unit, you'll be seeing algebra everywhere.‬

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    Unit 2. It Takes all Types of Numbers

    What does it mean to be a natural number? How are fractions and decimals related to one another? All of these burning questions will be answered—and then some. If they're still burning after this unit, you might want to get the fire extinguisher.

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    Unit 3. Real Numbers and Words

    We'll start this unit off with the bare bones of how to work with all the numbers we learned about from the past unit. Once that's taken care of, we'll get a quick refresher about variables, expressions, equations, and inequalities. English to Algebrish dictionary required.

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    Unit 4. Working with Expressions

    We'll finally start doing something with all of these tools we've been piling into our tool belt. We'll learn about expressions and how to work with them, but we'll also be introduced to equations in their different forms. You'll learn more than just how to pick them out of a lineup. (Hey! That one stole our ham sandwich!) 

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    Unit 5. Solving Linear Equations and Inequalities

    Here is where equations and inequalities take center stage. (Yeah, they're a little melodramatic.) If you think this unit is a piece of cake just because we've seen them once or twice already, you've got another thing coming. We'll fight fractions, tackle parentheses, wrestle with exponents—and emerge victorious.

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    Unit 6. Introduction to Exponents, Roots, and Functions

    In this unit we're going to be digging into equations just a little bit more. In addition to learning about exponents and square roots, we'll be introduced to sets, relations, and functional relationships (meaning: not Romeo and Juliet). By the end, we'll even grab linear equations by their y-intercepts and graph them on the coordinate plane.

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