Washing or Continuum Lines

The great virtue of a washing line is that it converts what may, for many students, be a vague conceptual idea into a physical, visible reality in front of their eyes, with the significant additional advantage that it then encourages subtlety and nuance of thought, language and argument – it’s the physicality and visibility that makes it possible for complexity to be accessible to more students. In many cases a completed washing line also creates the structure of an essay or other piece of extended writing

The other great advantage is that creating and using washing line activities in the classroom is a very un-risky, controlled, structured and valuable technique for developing complexity in students’ understand and arguments.

The notes you can download below suggest some of many ways you can use ‘washing lines’ to deepen your students’ understanding activities – and, like all effective methods, they work with students of all ages.

Washing Line Activities: The Full Article

I've described this technique in full in a PDF, covering:

• An introductory example:
Did the Norman Conquest really change life in England?

• Different ways of representing washing lines

• What can you help students understand by using washing lines?



Useful/Not useful Sources

Reliable/Unreliable Sources




Strongest Evidence For/Strongest Evidence Against


• Conclusion

Download the PDF HERE …


Some Examples of Washing Line Activities on this Website

Change and continuity: the impact of the Norman Conquest HERE …


The Riccall Mystery: how do we carry out an historical enquiry? HERE …


The impact of the Black Death: changes and continuities HERE …


1471: why did Edward IV win the crown back? HERE …

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This Technique

Download the Full Article

Example Activities