Tutoring Helps Students Help Themselves


Math story problems make young students stretch their brain cells to find solutions.

For example:


Jacque LeSueur tutors two of her students at the Payson Learning Institute.

There are 16 tomato plants growing in the garden. If each plant has 29 tomatoes, what kind of math do you use to find out how many tomatoes you can harvest?

Multiply is the easy answer, but, when it doesn't come so easy, the tutors at Payson learning Institute are available to help.

What makes story problems difficult?

"Trying to comprehend what kind of math is needed to solve the problem, then breaking it into steps makes students do more critical thinking," Jacque LeSueur, a PIL tutor said.

The next part of her student's math problem asked, "What is 15 percent of your harvest of tomatoes?"

Have you learned how to make a percentage into a decimal? LeSueur asked her student.

"Yes," the girl said.

"There is a math vocabulary that tells a student what kind of operation to perform," she said. "Once they learn that, it gets easier," she said.

Another one of the elementary children LeSueur tutored was in the process of learning common multipliers within his story problems, then, mark the answers on a grid.

He also had to list numbers that, when multiplied together, made 48.

Flash cards are another useful tutoring tool in LeSueur's arsenal.

Two students can learn how to multiply, quickly, in their heads as they play the game ‘war' with a simple numbered deck.

Each student puts one card down at the same time, such as a 4 card and a 9 card. The first one to call out the answer wins both cards. The object is to hold the most cards whenever the teacher calls time.

Triangle cards help students learn division and multiplication at the same time.

80 divided by 10

If the teacher covers the 10 or the 8, the student would divide. Cover the 80 and the student must multiply.


Members of the Payson Learning Institute's discussion and lecture committee, Bill Dow, Emil Albert, Patti Naughton and Su Connell brainstorm what's next.

Foundation work

PIL is also a resource for students who need extra help reading.

PIL founder Norma Wade believes in the necessity of good reading skills.

When Wade started as a tutor in the 1950s, her first student was a seventh-grade boy who read at a high first-grade level.

"A year-and-a-half later, he graduated from eighth grade, reading at an eighth grade level. Later, he became an architect," Wade said.

Her "great love" as a teacher is "students who have fallen through the cracks" of the public school systems she believes in.

"Tutoring is analyzing what is needed and then giving the child that," she added.

When parents bring their struggling student to PIL, the first order of business is for the tutor to listen to the parent.

A PIL tutor also speaks to the child's teacher so they are working cooperatively.

"We have the tools to analyze which specific skills are needed in order to have a student achieve his or her potential," Wade said.

"If one tries to put a roof on a house without a proper foundation, no matter how hard a person might try, it won't work," she added.

Jean Greer, and Jacque and Paul LeSueur are certified teachers with the state of Arizona. They are reading and math tutors at PIL. Illa Carpenter is a retired school teacher and PIL tutor.

Elementary through high school aged students are primarily tutored after school.

Elementary students, tutored in several subjects, get to do art projects for fun in between lessons.

PIL offers help with study skills, homework, and tests, including the Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS), and college entrance exams, ACT and SAT.

Adult tutoring includes reading, math and computer classes at this time. More adult education courses are under development.

"We hope to have adult interest groups in the morning when the rooms are not being used," Wade said.

For tutoring times, fees and scholarships, contact The Payson Learning Institute at 600 E. Highway 260, Payson, (928) 472-3393.

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