Poltergeist-inspired Pedagogy and Haunted House Heutagogy: Three Ideas to Embrace the Holiday Spirit(s)

The month of October can often feel a little flat in the educational calendar. The energy and excitement of the first days of school are over, and the promise of a holiday break is still over a month away. However, with its associations with Halloween, October can be the perfect month to embrace a little “seasonal shakeup” in your teaching practice. What follows are three suggestions for activities that can easily take on a spooky feel and bring a little fun (and sugar-free) excitement to the educational experience.

Exquisite Corpse

Exquisite Corpse (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exquisite_corpse) is an activity initially inspired by the Surrealist movement in art. In Exquisite Corpse, a group of collaborators assembles a collection of words or images. Each participant contributes a phrase or part of an image. The catch is this happens on a folded page. You are only allowed to see what the previous participant has submitted rather than the full page of information. When the page unfolds, the whole composition appears. The result is often a bit nonsensical but also has the potential to create some very creative combinations inspired by the collective creativity of the group.

Practical Tools:

Exquisite Corpse can quickly be done using collaborative cloud-based software such as Google Docs.

  • Choose a student or create the first line of text in a document that can be accessed and edited via a link.
  • Pass the link amongst students.
  • Prompt students to first add their line directly under the line that is in black text.
  • Once students add their line, turn the text in the line directly above the line they wrote to white.
  • The poem passes from student to student with only the most recent line in black being visible.
  • When everyone has contributed, the teacher can get the file back, turn it all to black and see what exquisite Corpse has emerged to life!

DIY Haunted House

There is nothing quite so spooky as a trip through a haunted house. As one travels from room to room, surprises are continually lurking, ready to pop out at a moment’s notice.

Practical Tools:

Students may not be able to travel to a brick and mortar haunted house during school hours. However, they can easily create their own “virtual haunted houses” using a few simple online tools.

  • Browse the online collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search), looking specifically at open access images.
  • Use a search term like “ghost” or “haunted” to bring up a vast assortment of art pieces from both eastern and western artists.
  • Download a variety of spooky images to act as the spirits in the house itself — bonus points for finding an actual picture of a home to serve as the entryway.
  • Put the images altogether using presentation software such as PowerPoint or Prezi adding words, sound effects, and animations as desired.

The Phantom Teacher

If you are teaching in a fully online or hybrid environment, you most likely may periodically share videos where you use your webcam for instruction. Instead of having these videos just the “regular” format with your face on camera, why not mix it up using a green screen recording app or an animation app? Could a phantom replace the teacher for a few sessions? Below are two practical tools to get you started.

Tellagami (https://tellagami.com)

Tellegami is a quick and easy mobile app that allows you to create short animated videos. You can change up the background, change up your voice, and change up your appearance.


Green Screen Live (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/green-screen-live-video-record/id1165505071)

Green Screen Live or another green screen recording apps are another great way to change up your background and overall video appearance. Adding some spooky elements to the background or even your own appearance is a great way to shake up the presentation format can add some useful updates to the overall mood and feel of the space.

A Note on Creativity in Teaching

The truth is sometimes the daily routine of being an educator can get a bit draining. When those times hit, why not try some creative tasks to shake things up using a variety of apps and online resources to reshuffle information presentation? October presents an ideal opportunity to insert a little spooky into the pedagogy. These are a few ideas to try, so in this season, you are not left ghosting responsibility to your students. Have others? Please reply in the comments so we can all learn and be inspired


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