I am finally back in town where I have access to reliable internet so I can download apps to try and report on. Today's app is Factors Factory, a free app that focuses on helping students learn to factor numbers using prime factorization and then apply the skill to find LCM and GCF.

I realize students should know how to do this by the time they hit middle school but so many of my students have no idea on how to factor so it makes life a bit more difficult for reducing problems.

The app gives immediate feed back if you are wrong but it won't give you the answer, you have to figure out the correct number. This means a student cannot just whiz through it without learning.

When the student goes into the app, there are four levels to choose from beginning with the Youngling one for those who need the most scaffolding on up to Master which has a person practicing their factoring with larger numbers. At the bottom, students can practice finding GCF and LCM. Each of these require the student to use prime factorization for the first number and check it before doing the same for the second number. Once the factorization is correctly done for both numbers, the student moves on to the GCF or LCM.

I took a picture of the Youngling page. It shows a picture of 30 objects and has the number on top of it. A person is most likely to choose the three so the app shows the number being cut into three pieces and it suggests the next number to use. Once the next number is chosen such as two, the app cuts it into two more pieces. So the picture gets broken down based on the suggested choices.

The Padowan level still has the hits but it shows the step by step break down. For instance you start with 36. You select 2 and it cuts the picture in half showing 18 and the math shows 36 = 2 x 18, 18 = ? x ?, so you choose 2 and it cuts the 18 in half and the equation becomes 18 = 2 x 9. It continues until the problem is totally factored.

The visual and the prompting is great for students who need the extra scaffolding to help them learn prime factorization. By the time you get to the Knight level, the app assumes you know what you are doing and it does not provide a prompt. Students are expected to be able to factor directly without the help.

I plan to add this one to my choices next year since most of my students arrive in high school without being able to use prime factorization properly.