I have been reading "Making Learning Whole" by David Perkins. I love it and wish all teachers would read it. He used the metaphor of the "whole game" to let us know that we can get too caught up in the steps and not the whole pictures. Students become far better learners if they know the whole picture.
Take baseball (as Perkins did). We don't spend hours and hours practicing all the sub routines of the the game before we actually have kids play it. What they do play, though, is what Perkins calls a "junior version" with modified rules, but the overall goal of the game remains the same.
I am contemplated what the "junior version" of algebra should look like for my students thanks to this book.