Lots of comic book creators have day jobs to assist in paying for their craft; Gene Yang is no exception. He’s worked as a math teacher and technical advisor for multiple Catholic high schools in the California area since 1998. So, what do you do to marry these two passions into one package? You make lessons in the form of comics, of course. Gene created an entire website, Factoring with Mr. Yang and Mosley the Alien as part of his final project for a Master’s Degree in Education. The site is split into five lessons, with a bunch of examples thrown in to try and make factoring as simple as possible.
The lessons start small and work their way up, introducing Prime Factoring (reducing the factors of a number down to their prime numbers), Greatest Common Factors (the largest number you can factor into two different numbers), and the dreaded trinomials. Trinomials still give me nightmares as they were one of the few parts of algebra that took me a while to grasp, but the comics do a good job of explaining them anyway. As for the website itself, it is easy to navigate, has handy buttons to skip forward and backward in large chunks or one by one, and is devoid of flashy, over-the-top graphics. Whether you’re a teacher looking to assign a website to your kids, or if you’re a high schooler that needs help with your homework, I’d give Gene’s site a go. Then, let me know if you find a real-life scenario where algebra is needed; my high-school self is still trying to figure that one out.