Protocol for Language Arts Teaching Observations (PLATO)
The Protocol for Language Arts Teacher Observations (PLATO) is a classroom observation tool designed to capture features of Language Arts instruction. Currently, CSET supports use of PLATO in two capacities. First, we train researchers who want to use PLATO to study teachers' classroom practices. Most recently we have trained a team of researchers who are using PLATO to evaluate the impact of teacher learning interventions on teachers' classroom practice and a team that is using PLATO in a descriptive study of instructional practices in Language Arts classrooms in Bogota, Colombia. Historically, PLATO has also been used to study the connection between instructional practices and student achievement. Although the impact of this work with students is not immediate, the goal of the studies employing PLATO is to generate new knowledge about teachers' instructional practice and the efficacy of efforts to support teacher learning and growth in practice.
We are also using PLATO as a professional development tool to support teachers' use of rigorous, research-based teaching practices. We use a practice-based approach to provide cycles of professional development to teachers (in-person PD, online coaching, video work) around the elements of effective Language Arts instruction that PLATO defines. Each of the PLATO elements is research-based and associated with student learning, so our goal is that by working on these practices with teachers, they can grow their impact on student learning.