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Teacher Lesson Return to "Sexonomics 101"
Sexonomics 101
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Media/News Literacy Lesson: How Gender Ratios Influence Sexual Decision Making

• Students will be able to identify different types of evidence that writers use in their stories.
• Students will consider how having more girls than boys (and vice versa) in a school or college might influence how girls and boys view dating relationships.

Students will write an opinion essay.

Before the activity: Read the story yourself. When the writer cites a source, put a number next to that passage or sentence. Here are the sources mentioned:

• Students at her school. (Note that she uses the word “sources” here.)
• An online article published by
• The study that the online article discusses
• The study and article again
• Her personal experience, at the place where she writes, “I know girls often feel…”
• New York Times article
• Make a note that this section contains the writer’s analysis or examination of the gender ratio impacts
ANOTHER NOTE: Notice that the writer did not quote anyone at her school about this issue. She might have spoken with her classmates but has not quoted any of them.

Write this list on the board:
Type of evidence
1) References to studies, books, newspaper articles, and reports issued by well-regarded sources (colleges, internet sites run by colleges, government agencies, major newspapers, research institutions)
2 ) Interviews with recognized experts such as college professors, government officials, and authors
3) Interviews with people most affected by what’s being reported on, for example, flood victims, soldiers in a war, a student being affected by an educational policy, etc.
4) Interviews with people who know the people being written about
5) Personal accounts by the author that describe his or her experience with the issue being written about

Activity #1: Reading and discussion
Lead a short discussion about what a “source” is in reporting. Tell the group, “We are going to read a story by teen writer Kelly Colon about how the numbers of boys and girls at high schools and colleges influence dating decisions and decisions about having sex. Note that at the end of the first paragraph, she writes, “‘…it was easy to check sources.’” Ask the group, “What is a source? Give some examples of sources in newspaper, magazine or online articles.”

After the discussion, tell them, “Look at the list on the board. As you read the story, your job is to identify the types of evidence that the author provides. Notice that each type of evidence on the list is numbered. Write the appropriate number next to the text that has that kind of evidence.” You can give them an example from the exercise you did.

After they read the story and mark up their copies, ask them something like, “Are you convinced that Kelly accurately portrayed the situation facing many girls at school where females outnumber males by a large margin? And what about situations where boys outnumber girls? If you are convinced, what parts of the story were important in convincing you?

NOTE: Try to work the question of lack of interview quotes in the story. Would quoting one or two students at her school have made any difference in convincing anyone?

Activity #2: Reflection and writing
Direct them to read the story again at home, especially the last column where Kelly examines the gender ratio situation. As they read they should think about the dating situation at their school. They should write 400-500 word essayone type-written pageabout whether the story accurately describes the situation at their school.

When the group meets again, ask for volunteers to read their essays or summarize them. Lead discussions based on the responses.

Lesson: Sexonomics 101: Practice for Regents Exam Reading Section


• Students will learn about how the ratio of girls to boys at schools can influence dating behavior and sexual decision-making.

• They will think about what makes for a healthy dating relationship.

• They will improve skills needed to do well on the Regents reading section: making inferences, recognizing key facts and the main point in a text, understanding the purpose of individual sentences, etc.

What the teacher needs to know to use this lesson: The Regents English exam has a reading section that requires students to read a passage and answer six multiple-choice questions. The passage here is slightly longer than the typical Regents passage.

Before the session: Make copies of the question sheet below.

Activity: Put these directions on the board or read them slowly: “Below each passage, there are several multiple choice questions. Select the best suggested answer to each question and circle the correct answers.”

Here are the answers to Lesson 5:
1) 3
2) 2 (Irate means very angry, almost out of control. Exasperated means irritated or annoyed.)
3) 1 (Point out the question stipulates “according to the article.” Other answers might be correct in reality but the article did not mention them.)
4) 3
5) 4
6) 1
7) 2
8) 3

Regents Practice Question Sheet



1) What was the author’s original reasoning about how girls would act in a school with mostly girls?

1) Girls would be more likely to have sex
2) Boys would be choosier about dating
3) Girls would be choosier because there were fewer guys worth dating
4) Girls would be more likely to date boys from other schools.

2) What word best describes the overall tone of the piece?

1) Placid
2) Exasperated
3) Accepting
4) Irate

3) According to the article, what would you expect to find in a school with more boys than girls?

1) Girls having less sex
2) More fights among boys about girls
3) Boys dating girls from other schools more often
4) Boys becoming less interested in having sex

4) What views does the writer have about infidelity in a relationship?

1) It’s OK for girls to accept cheating by boys if there aren’t many boys around
2) It’s OK for boys to accept cheating by girls if there aren’t many girls around.
3) Having to accept cheating by your partner poisons the relationship
4) It’s OK to cheat if both partners agree

5) In the phrase, “there have been a few altercations because of girls wanting certain boys,” the word altercation means

1) Compromises
2) School expulsions
3) Arrests
4) Heated disputes

6) According to the study referred to in the story, how do girls differ from boys in how they think about dating?

1) Most girls are less interested in having sex than boys
2) Boy and girls are equally interested in being in a relationship
3) Most boys think it’s OK to cheat
4) Girls are pickier about who they date

7) What is one reason the writer wrote the story?

1) To warn girls about boys who cheat
2) To describe how unfair dating situations and social attitudes can influence girls’ behavior
3) To scold boys for cheating and lying
4) To argue that schools should have the same number of each gender

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