Line Up


Contributor: Angela Buckingham Academic Developer in CQSD (Centre for Quality Support and Development), University of Reading,

Ingredients: None but you do need sufficient space

Method: When you need to mix up people in the room, or get people talking to each other.

Choose a start point (usually a point where you stand in the room with plenty of space to one side). Ask the course participants to quickly arrange themselves in a line, in the correct order, according to criteria you set. For example:

Arrange yourselves according to who has travelled the furthest to be here today? (start point- least distance travelled, end point- furthest) OR

Arrange yourselves in birthday order (start point- January 1st birthday, end point- December 31st) OR

Arrange yourselves in order of singing ability (start point- never sings at all, ever, end point-gives public performances)


Participants have to communicate and find out about each other in order to complete the line up. Quieter groups may need some encouragement to start them off.

Once the participants are lined up, go along the line quickly to check that the order is correct, by asking some general questions (e.g. How long was your journey? When is your birthday? Do you sometimes sing in the car in front of your family?)

Once you are happy with the line up, you can then easily group participants into new working groups by going along the line dividing them up (e.g. first four, next four and so on). They then sit down to work together in their new groups.

Special Notes:  For smaller groups e.g. twelve participants or fewer, the line up can be done in a circle (start point to your left, circling around to the end point to your right).

Line ups can be easily adapted for mid-workshop activities (e.g. how far do you agree/disagree with a statement)

Acknowledgements: I first learnt about line ups on an Oxford Teachers Academy training course run by Oxford University Press; this type of activity is commonly used in the English language teaching classroom.

References: None that I know of

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