NYU Children’s Choir: A Holiday Video Interview with Elaine Gates

YouTube Preview ImageThe NYU Children’s Chorus—open to any singer between the ages of 6 and 12, with or without prior singing experience—is an outreach program offered through Steinhardt to the community free of charge. Participants learn the fundamentals of vocal technique, musicianship, and teamwork, and perform as part of a group of more than 75 children.

NYU Stories sat down with Children’s Chorus founder and 2013 GRAMMY Music Educator Award finalist Elaine Gates on the eve of her last concert as director of the group, in December 2014. Gates, who was Steinhardt’s director of music education for many years, is also a former teacher to stars such as Natalie Portman and Mariah Carey.


Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Early Childhood Education Expert, Testifies at White House Summit

Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Steinhardt’s Courtney Sale Ross University Professor of Globalization and Education, took part in the White House Summit on Early Education on December 10th.  The hearing was chaired by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and hosted by President Obama.

Yoshikawa was part of a panel titled, “Public Investment Leadership to Expand Early Education,” that brought together business leaders, philanthropists, advocates, and elected officials to discuss the expansion of high-quality early learning opportunities for children. Yoshikawa, who led research efforts to measure the success of Boston’s pre-K efforts, was one of several NYU researchers to sign an open letter last month urging policymakers to support greater investment in high-quality early childhood education.

At the hearing, Yoshikawa presented research findings from neuroscience, psychology, developmental psychology, and economics that prove the long-term benefit of early childhood education.

“We know how to implement quality at scale in early education, but as a nation we have fallen far behind other countries in access to quality early education,” Yoshikawa said.

He noted that the United States was a world leader in primary education in the 19th century; secondary and higher education in the 20th century. He urged the committee to enact legislation to enable the United States to support early education in the 21st century.

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Read:   Evidence shows large-scale, public preschool programs lead to better education, health, economic and social outcomes for children, families and countries, a blog post by Hiro Yoshikawa.

(Screenshot photo from left to right:  Hirokazu Yoshikawa (NYU), Eric Gordon (Cleveland Metropolitan School District), La June Montgomery Tabron (W.K. Kellogg Foundation), Sherriff Russell Martin (Delaware County, Ohio), and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.)



Steinhardt Faculty Member and Alumni Nominated for 2015 Grammy Awards

Music Business alums Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino, AKA A Great Big World, were nominated for a Grammy for their hit “Say Something."

Three alumni and one faculty member from the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions at the Steinhardt School were among the nominees for the 2015 Grammy Awards. The nominations were announced on December 5 by the Recording Academy and comprise an eclectic mix of the music industry’s best and brightest over the past year.

Music business alumni duo Ian Axel (B.Mus., ’07) and Chad Vaccarino (B.Mus., ’07), who comprise A Great Big World, were nominated in the category of Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Say Something” with Christina Aguilera. Other nominees in the category included Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars,” “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry and “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj.

Music technology alumna Emily Lazar (M.Mus., ’96) was nominated for her work as mastering engineer on Sia’s “Chandelier,” which is in contention for Record of the Year, together with Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me,” Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor.

NYU Steinhardt’s Joe Lovano, faculty member in the Jazz Studies Program, received two Grammy nominations – the first in the category of Best Improvised Jazz Solo for “Recorda Me” from the album The Latin Size of Joe Henderson, which also earned he and Conrad Herwig a nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album. Lovano previously won a Grammy in 2000 for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for 52nd Street Themes.

The 57th Annual Grammy Awards will be held on Feb. 8, 2015, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast live on CBS from 8 – 11:30 p.m.


New Report Explores the Use of Digital Games in the Classroom During the Learning Process

A new report from the A-GAMES PROJECT, a collaboration between New York University and the University of Michigan, examines how teachers are using digital games in their classrooms to monitor student learning and provide ongoing feedback.

The overall study is designed to help game designers as they develop educational games, researchers as they frame future studies of games and learning, and educators as they think about the role of games in everyday classroom practice.

“At a time when the interest in the use of games for learning purposes is increasing, and when school districts are adopting games for use in the classroom, we need more insights into how teachers use digital games in the classroom, and how they use them to assess student learning, so we can provide designers with essential input to build the next generation of learning games,” said Jan Plass, co-director of the Games for Learning Institute and the Paulette Goddard Professor of Digital Media and Learning Sciences at NYU Steinhardt.

The study was conducted in two parts, the first of which was a nationwide survey of 488 K-12 teachers. The survey offers a “mile high” picture of what teachers are doing with digital games related to formative assessment, a set of practices to gauge student progress toward learning goals, and to adjust instruction to meet students where they are. Formative assessment, which occurs during the learning process, differs from summative assessment, used to measure student learning at the end of a unit or term.

In the web-based survey, teachers were asked about their digital game use, formative assessment practices, and the intersection of the two. Key findings from the survey include:

  • More than half of teachers (57 percent) use digital games weekly or more often in teaching, with 18 percent using games for teaching on a daily basis. A teacher’s comfort level with using games for teaching is strongly related to how often they use digital games in the classroom, i.e., the more comfortable teachers are, the more likely they are to use games frequently.
  • A higher percentage of elementary school teachers (66 percent for grade K-2 teachers and 79 percent for grade 3-5 teachers) use games weekly or more often for teaching, compared with middle school (47 percent) and high school (40 percent) teachers. This is consistent with the larger market presence of games for younger learners.
  • More than a third of teachers (34 percent) use games at least weekly to conduct formative assessment. The way teachers who responded to the survey use digital games for formative assessment is related to their overall formative assessment practices, suggesting that using digital games may enable teachers to conduct formative assessment more frequently and effectively.
  • The most common barriers to using digital games – reported by more than half of the teachers – are the cost of games, limited time in the curriculum, and lack of technology resources, such as computers or the Internet.

“The most exciting finding in this study is the relationship between game use and formative assessment practices,” said Barry Fishman, professor of learning technologies at the University of Michigan School of Information and School of Education. “Formative assessment is thought of as one of the most important classroom practices to support student learning, and our study indicates that teachers who use games for formative assessment conduct assessment more frequently and report fewer barriers.”

To view the full report, visit THE A-GAMES PROJECT.  A second report from the study, to be released in early 2015, includes observations and interviews with 30 middle school teachers in the New York City area and focuses on the specific types of game features teachers use to monitor student progress.

A-GAMES, which stands for Analyzing Games for Assessment in Math, ELA/Social Studies, and Science, is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Steinhardt Video Series Showcases Jazz Living Legends

Jazz great Wayne Shorter speaks to David Schroeder as part of the ongoing Steinhardt Jazz Interview Series.

Wayne Shorter, Paul McCandless, and John Scofield are just a few of the towering figures in the world of jazz music who discuss their individual experiences of success, struggle, musicianship and collaboration as part of a first-of-its-kind interview series created by NYU Jazz Studies Director David Schroeder. The first five interviews in the NYU Steinhardt Jazz Interview Series are available today for public viewing via YouTube.

Schroeder established the NYU Steinhardt Jazz Interview Series in 2014 with a grant from the Selma Geller Jazz Fund with the goal of creating a digital archive of interviews that will ultimately include a broad array of today’s most influential jazz figures. All interviews are recorded at Subculture in Greenwich Village before a live audience.

“We’re fortunate here in Greenwich Village to have so many of the most inspirational and important jazz musicians – several of whom are on our faculty or are alums of NYU Steinhardt, including the legendary saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter, three-time Grammy winner Gil Goldstein and SNL band leader Lenny Pickett,” said Schroeder. “This series helps us share our embarrassment of riches, but also creates a video library of interviews of jazz musicians by jazz musicians that can be accessed by any jazz enthusiast anywhere in the world, now and in the future.”

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A saxophonist and jazz historian, Schroder teaches jazz history and jazz theory and serves as artistic director for the NYU Jazz Masterclass Series at NYU Steinhardt. His deep connections within the New York jazz scene have made him instrumental in developing opportunities for student performers to engage in music industry internships at such places at the Blue Note Jazz Club, Jazz at Lincoln Center and Saturday Night Live to name a few.

The first five interviews in the series include, in addition to McCandless, Shorter and Scofield, include jazz guitarist John Abercrombie and saxophonist Chris Potter. Schroeder ultimately plans to conduct 50 interviews, supported by a grant from the Geller Fund. New Interviews will be uploaded to YouTube as they get produced. To access the NYU Steinhardt Video Series, visit NYU Steinhardt Jazz YouTube Channel.


Winter Concerts: Combo Nuvo, NYU Philharmonia, and NYU Symphony Perform Dec. 11 & 13th

Combo Nuvo, the NYU Faculty Jazz Ensemble in Residence, will join the NYU Philharmonia for its winter concert on Thursday, December 11. The program will feature works for jazz band and full orchestra by Jazz Studies Director Dave Schroeder and Adjunct Professor Rich Shemaria and will be conducted by Maestro Constantine Kitsopoulos. Maestro Kitsopoulos is a leading conductor working across multiple musical genres and the current music director of the Queens Symphony. It is his third season conducting at NYU.

Then on Saturday, December 13, the NYU Symphony will mount its final performance of the calendar year. This program will feature Tania León Batá, Aaron Copland Orchestral Variations, and Johannes Brahms Symphony No. 1 in C minor. Maestro Ari Pelto, a celebrated conductor currently serving as Artistic Advisor at Opera Colorado, will conduct the program. It is Maestro Pelto’s fifth season at NYU.

Both concerts are free and open to the public and take place at 8 p.m. at The Frederick Loewe Theatre, located at 35 W. 4th Street between Mercer and Washington Square East. Subway: A,B,C,D,E,F,M (W. 4th Street), R,N (8th Street) or 6 (Astor Place). For more information call 212-998-5260, email nyu.orchestras@gmail.com or visit steinhardt.nyu.edu/music/.


Terrorism Threat is Perceived Differently by Different Groups, Finds Study by Rezarta Bilali

People who view their group as more homogenous – for instance, the more one thinks Americans are similar to each other – are less likely to be influenced by external terrorist threat alerts, according to research from the NYU Steinhart School.

“Among people who viewed their group to be homogeneous, external threat did not translate to higher perceived threat, and they did not influence beliefs about the legitimacy of the U.S. military intervention in Iraq,” said study author Rezarta Bilali, assistant professor of psychology and social intervention at NYU Steinhardt.

The findings, published Nov. 24 in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, suggest that people interpret terrorist threats in very different ways.

Terrorist threats communicated through mass media, government agencies, and other sources influence levels of perceived threat. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the U.S. government created a color-coded warning system to alert Americans to the level of threat facing the country. From 2002 through the system’s dissolution in 2011, the warning level never dropped below “yellow,” a three out of five on the alert scale.

Bilali’s study examined the effect of external cues of security or threat – manipulated by the researchers – on perceived threat and legitimization of the U.S.’s war in Iraq, based on a person’s identification with being American and beliefs about the degree to which Americans are similar to each other.

The study, conducted in two stages, included 147 American university students. In the first stage, participants completed questionnaires measuring their identification with their American nationalities, and whether they perceived Americans to be similar to each other or different.

A few months later, in the second stage, participants completed additional tasks. In one, the participants read a fake newspaper article that was manipulated to communicate either security or a threat to America. Subsequently, participants completed questionnaires to gauge their opinions on the war in Iraq and whether they agreed with the U.S.’s decision to intervene.

Bilali found that participants legitimized the U.S. military intervention in Iraq to a higher degree when they were exposed to threat cues versus when they were made to believe that the U.S. is safe from terrorism. She found that participants who saw their group to be unlike each other were more likely to perceive greater threat when exposed to external terrorist threats, and they were more likely to legitimize the U.S.’s involvement in the war in Iraq. By contrast, individuals who viewed their group to be homogeneous – in other words, viewed Americans to be like them and similar to each other – were less likely to perceive heightened threat when they read about a terrorist threat.

“Perceiving the group as similar to one another seems to disrupt the expected relationship between external cues of threat and subjective perceptions of threat,” Bilali said. “There’s some evidence that homogeneity is related to increased feelings that you can cope with a disastrous event, so these results can be interpreted by looking at the role of homogeneity in increasing the perceived ability to cope with threats toward the group.”

The results shed light on the potential impact of terror warning systems and media influence on different segments of the population.

“While the study creates more questions than answers, it suggests that terror threat alerts are not affecting everyone equally,” Bilali said.


Study by Erin Godfrey Finds Open and Honest Classroom Discussion Can Foster Critical Consciousness

Critical consciousness – the ability to critically read social conditions, feel empowered to make change in one’s community, and actually participate in these change efforts – is an important part of youth’s civic development. It is also a source of strength for disadvantaged youth that contributes to their well-being.

Steinhardt’s Erin Godfrey, assistant professor of applied psychology, and doctoral student Justina Grayman conducted a study looking at whether the type of classroom discussions youth have in school matters for their critical consciousness. The researchers specifically looked at the extent to which an open climate for discussion – one in which controversial issues are openly discussed with respect for all opinions – related to youth’s critical consciousness.

Godfrey and Grayman studied a sample of more than 2,700 ninth grade students. They found that the type of discussions in their classrooms did matter. Students who reported that controversial issues were openly and respectfully discussed in their classroom felt more strongly that they could make changes in their schools and communities. They were also more likely to participate in voluntary activities to help their community. Minority youth benefited particularly from these kinds of classroom discussions.

“Our findings suggest that we should foster teachers’ abilities to discuss controversial issues in an open and respectful way,” says Godfrey. “These kinds of discussions not only build critical consciousness, but also support academic learning and other important skills laid out in the Common Core State Standards.”

The research was published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

(Photo credit: Thinkstock/Monkey Business Images)




At Steinhardt Policy Breakfast, Panel Discusses Pre-K and Closing the Achievement Gap

The lasting benefit of early childhood education was the focus of the Steinhardt School’s first annual policy breakfast on November 21st.  The event brought together 200 members of the education community for a conversation on the role that early childhood education plays in improving student success and its ability to close the achievement gap.

Hirokazu Yoshikawa (left) and Steven Dow (center) listened to Ajay Chaudry (right) speak during a Q&A session at the November 21st policy breakfast on early childhood education

Hirokazu Yoshikawa, the Courtney Sale Ross University Professor of Globalization and Education at NYU Steinhardt, moderated the event. Yoshikawa, who led research efforts to measure the success of Boston’s pre-K efforts, was one of several NYU researchers to sign an open letter last week urging policymakers to support greater investments in high-quality early childhood education.

At the event, Yoshikawa shared examples of policy advances in support of universal pre-K – in New York, Boston, Seattle, and beyond – and stated that access to early childhood education is a “civil rights issue of our time.”

Ajay Chaudry, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offered a national perspective on the promise and challenges of universal pre-K. While research has shown that early childhood education has significant educational and societal benefits, Chaudry stressed the importance of both access to education and ensuring its quality.

Chaudry also shared statistics on achievement gaps between children across the socioeconomic spectrum, noting that a gap is not just seen between rich and poor children. In fact, he showed that a larger achievement gap exists between upper and middle class children than middle and lower class children.

Steven Dow, executive director of CAP Tulsa, an anti-poverty agency in Oklahoma, spoke about his state’s successes in early childhood education.  Oklahoma has long been known as a model for early childhood education, where 74 percent of 4-year-olds are enrolled in publicly funded pre-K.

Left to right: Patricia Cooper (Professor of Elementary and Early Childhood Education at Queens College, CUNY), Steven Dow, and Ajay Chaudry

Despite these achievements, Dow discussed the under-resourced and fragmented education system for children under five, compared with the more established K-12 and higher education systems. “If we want to change the outcome, we’ve got to change the system,” said Dow.

The NYU Steinhardt Education Policy Breakfast Series brings together policy leaders, legislators, business people, heads of corporations, foundations and advocacy organizations, university faculty, and school superintendents. The goal has been to illuminate contemporary educational issues and foster discussion among the many constituencies concerned with education at both the local and national levels. Now in its 16th year, this year’s series will focus on key issues in early childhood education: accessibility, quality, and affordability.

How to Bake a Pumpkin Pie: A Teachable Moment with Alumna Leanne Brown and NYU President John Sexton

YouTube Preview ImageJust in time for Thanksgiving, NYU food studies alumna Leanne Brown (MA ’14) returns to Steinhardt’s teaching kitchen to bake a classic pumpkin pie—with a little help from President John Sexton. For more on Brown, her cookbooks, and her campaign to make simple, delicious recipes accessible to all, visit www.leannebrown.com. And to recreate her dish for your holiday table, download the recipe here.

(From NYU Stories)