I wonder how context is made use of, and what the value of moving between the concrete and abstract is, when the underlying mathematical abstractions are well understood (e.g. if the students had a robust understanding of area).

]]>Why not say each frog needs 2 square meters or 3 square meters or 1/2 square meter?

Word problems have different purposes at different times. Your students do not seem to understand what area actually means. So, in this case the idea of the word problem is to create understanding. If the students already understood what area means, then this problem would be a way to see how well they can apply their understanding of two concepts. If you are implying that what you call the “traditional approach” does not work so well because the students don’t actually understand what the underlying math means, I agree with you.

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