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John Zola's Teaching Strategies and Professional Development Workshops

This website supports the workshops conducted by John Zola. You’ll find links to a variety of handouts and examples of activities and strategies modeled in workshops. Feel free to use and modify these to enhance your own teaching and the learning of your students.

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About John

As a teacher, John Zola believes that the best lessons are the ones that engage students and provide opportunities to do challenging and authentic “work.” While content is at the heart of any teaching, it is impossible to “teach” all the content there is to learn in any discipline. Classrooms should be focused on students engaging with each other, with interesting and worthwhile ideas, and struggling to make meaning. The roles of the teacher should focus on structuring activities, communicating behavior and learning expectations, facilitating activities, and asking questions.


John Zola spent 32 years as a high school social studies teacher; most recently at New Vista High School, a “break the mold” public high school in Boulder, Colorado. There, he developed a wide variety of courses and implemented Socratic seminars on a regular basis.  John also served as the Director of School and University Partnerships at the University of Colorado School of Education where he taught social studies methodology courses over the past two decades. Throughout his career, John developed interactive teaching materials and trained colleagues in active learning strategies and Socratic seminars.  He has presented workshops that help teachers make the voice and work of students central in the classroom.  Many of these workshops were presented in countries of the former Soviet Bloc where they helped to promote the skills and dispositions needed in the new democracies.  John currently conducts in-service trainings on Socratic seminars, civic education and teaching strategies in a variety of locations around the United States, Central Europe, and Asia.

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