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Challenge and Cognition: Increasing the level of challenge in teenage classes

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Watch a recording of our webinar with Sarah Smith and Claire Steele, looking at increasing the level of challenge in the teenage classroom.

About the webinar

To better challenge our teenage learners, and appeal to different abilities in the classroom, teachers must incorporate mastery and development tasks. ‘Tasks’ include everything you ask students to do for example, questions and answers, activities or projects.

Mastery Tasks (LOTs) are mastered by all learners in a short period of time regardless of prior learning. Developmental tasks (HOTs) stretch learners and develop cognitive skills.

Reformulating teacher questions also increases the level of challenge. Research shows that 60% of teachers’ questions involve remembering, 20% are procedural, and only 20% encourage thinking.

Finally, encouraging learners to choose their level of challenge (rather than teachers dictating it) and reflect on their choice fosters a sense of ownership and progress.

Session participants will be better able to:

  • Include mastery and developmental tasks in all lesson stages
  • Reformulate questions to encourage HOTs
  • Encourage learners to choose and reflect on the level of challenge

Recorded on 13 January 2022

Watch a recording below or watch on YouTube with subtitles

About the speakers

Claire Steele

I’m Claire and I have worked in EFL/ESL as a teacher, trainer, manager and consultant worldwide, but mainly in the UK, Australia, Colombia and Greece. I have always been interested in inspiring students and teachers, so teacher development has always been my area of interest and career path. I’ve been very privileged to have worked with teachers all over the world in their contexts. I’m interested in student-centred learning, fostering creativity and critical-thinking in the classroom, reflective practice, and adapting materials to create a more dynamic and engaging learning experience. I also actively support inclusive classroom practices for all English teachers and students. I am co-founder and director of eltonix (

Sarah Smith

I’m Sarah and I have worked as an EFL/ESL teacher in Senegal, Japan, Ecuador and Turkey. I was a teacher and mentor in Thailand and France and am now based in Greece where I initially worked as an academic manager and a teacher trainer. My areas of interest are teacher training and development, reflective practice, student-centred learning, holistic child development, incorporating life skills in the classroom and encouraging a sense of progress through learning to learn techniques. I am also an advocate for inclusive classroom practices which provide a safe learning environment for all teachers and students. I am co-founder and director of eltonix (