Developing Critical Numeracy Across the Curriculum

Teaching Activity

Building forecasts

How do we forecast the future?
9/10 Stage: 11/12/13
with emphasis on:

Maths Concepts: Number, graphing, inference
Context: Society
Critical Numeracy: De-coding, Meaning-making, Using, Analysing
Date of Article: 28/05/09, pg 19
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Student Worksheet
Student worksheet answers

Teacher Guidelines:

This article looks at the reduction in building activity in Tasmania based on ABS Building Activity figures. The article contains a lot of comparative data yet it isn't coherent enough to give a full picture of the trends and the issues. It provides an opportunity to discuss how data are used to make forecasts and how these forecasts influence decisions of national significance.

Building activity is a key indicator of economic prosperity. Building activity trends influence National Financial policy as well as Reserve Bank decisions to increase or lower interest rates. Government decisions to provide bonus payments for first home buyers and new home buyers cause stimulus to the building industry and the economy as a whole. Some claim it artificially raises real estate prices making homes less affordable, while others are more interested in the employment flow on effects.  How important is the Australian dream of owning your own home?

Read the Prime Minister's Speech June 2009 which puts building activity in context of the global economy and recession and why they targeted the building industry for assistance.

Orienting Questions

How do we forecast the future?

There is a lot riding on getting forecasts right. Why might it be important to forecast building activity in Australia? What data would you need to collect?

De-coding and Meaning-making

The student worksheet helps students draw on some of the data to create graphs and do percentage increase and decrease calculations.

Using and Analysing

The worksheet supplements the data in the article with graphs showing building activity over the last 8 years so students get a sense of how time periods influence the sort of conclusions that you can make from the data. They are asked to consider whether the numbers in the article support the forecasts given.

Classroom discussion on exploring the issues of creating useful forecasts. What do you have to take into account in making a forecast? What do you look for? What data do you need to collect?

Possible Activities: Students create a mind map showing all the factors that they think influence building activity and the various ways that building activity impacts on the local community and national policy.  Why is the building industry so important? How can forecasts help us make useful decisions for this industry?

Students could consider debating the issue: Do Australians have a right to own their own home?


What did you learn? How has your thinking on this topic changed? What new maths skills have you developed? What thinking strategies have you found useful?

What investigation would you like to consider now?


Students in groups could consider choosing a topic of personal interest and research data in order to make forecasts about the future. (For example, researching statistics about the rise of particular musical genres, or video games.) They could write a report that recommends strategies based on the evidence they find.

Useful Statistical definitions

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