SCHENECTADY – When forced to stay home at the start of last year’s pandemic, Victoria Candida, a Schenectady Middle School social studies teacher, did what many of her students do: play video games.
It gives him something to talk about with his students, such as their favorite games and characters or minor peculiarities in the gameplay. In November, while she was looking for the coveted and hard-to-find Playstation 5, Candida gave her students regular updates.
“I can connect so much with the kids in a way that I didn’t before,” she said. “It becomes something very bright in a very dark and scary time.”
For some of her students, the shared connection to the game serves as a hook that Candida can use to engage them more fully in the classroom.
“Over time they become more comfortable and eventually actually answer questions or volunteer to read,” he said.
Candida started teaching herself how to code, learning from YouTube videos and experimenting, and seeing video games as a way to teach her classroom material – global history. Educators talk a lot about subjects that are “culturally relevant” for their students, ways to better connect students to the material they need to learn through material that is of interest to them. And what is more relevant to youth culture than video games?
“I’m starting to think it could be something more than just a quarantine hobby,” he said. “This is a new obsession.
So the video game Liberation was born. Focusing on Latin American revolutionaries – Simón Bolívar, Toussaint L’Ouverture and José de San Martín – Candida hopes the game, which is still in progress, will be a way to engage students in the creative process, show another side of Latin American history and become a learning tool he could with the class of students in the future.
“I’m trying to think of a way to do education but in a way that is more responsive to culture and certainly a more fun and engaging way for students who have difficulty reading or don’t see themselves in my lessons or textbooks,” said Candida, a Schalmont graduate. The Central School District is approaching four years as a teacher at Schenectady.
Candida has started building games, developing character outlines, maps, gameplay, and stories, and recently she won a $ 2,500 teacher assistance grant from State Farm to help advance the project. He said the grant would help improve the technology that supports game development and give him the opportunity to speed up the process.
Games not only serve as an interesting way to teach students about history, developing games will also give them the opportunity to show their creative side. Candida said she plans to start the club once activity returns fully to school, allowing students to study history, computer science and art design in the same project.
“What I like about game development is that it sits at the intersection of art, storytelling and music,” he said.
With so many students learning from their bedrooms this school year, video games may cause more pressing distraction to classrooms than in the past, but Candida says educators may have to learn from the fact that often students prefer to play games rather than join forces. class. He said games can take students to new places and cause them to explore different character motivations and perspectives.
“Why are video games more interesting and how can we get schools involved in the same way?” she asked. “Rather than demonizing them, what makes them so great … For long history, or long history that feels geographically distant, video games can really put us there.”
He also hopes that his chosen subject, the Latin American Revolution, will help refram the history lessons that have centered on how Western societies have oppressed other parts of the world, minimizing the agency of non-Westerners. She said focusing on parts of world history that are often overlooked could help a wider group of students relate to the material.
“It has a big impact, seeing yourself in history is a privilege I take for granted as a white person,” he said. “I don’t want to talk about resource theft as the main focus, why don’t we talk about people fighting oppression.”
A student in one of Candida’s recent classes, which has been conducted virtually throughout the school year, said she was one of the few teachers who shared the same interests as her students. They said they thought many students would be interested in learning through games.
“Many children usually don’t work if they all use paper and pencil,” said Ariel Ramprasad, a second year student. “But turning it into a game format, it makes them want to do it, makes it challenging because it’s a game, you have to level up.”
Andrew Persad, who is also a sophomore, says that video games are a way to meet students who are already comfortable.
“Students these days, they’re not about honest books and all about video games and social media,” said Persad.
The students champion Candida’s artistic skills and express confidence that her video game project will be a success.
“He was the first teacher I saw who had a full interest in the things we do,” said Ramprasad. “Ms. Candida impressed us all the time with whatever she did.”
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