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Joseph Mahood

E-Mail: jmahood@smuhsd.k12.ca.us

I was born in San Rafael California in 1950 and spent my youth exploring the hills and forests of Marin County until high school graduation in 1968. After graduating from the University of California Davis with a degree in Bacteriology I left the country. The Peace Corps was an exciting experience, made even more so by being in Africa, and in the middle of the 1974 Ethiopian revolution. During my stay in Ethiopia, I taught middle and high school and did protein electrophoresis on Hansen's disease. I lived outside of the capital and spent my time exploring countryside and national parks near the origin of the Blue Nile. My love of Biology was further indulged by spending two months in the game parks of Kenya and Tanzania at the end of my Peace Corps tour. I try to explore all of the natural habitats available as I move from place to place.

On returning to the US, I spent a few years working as a cabinet maker, but longed to be back in the classroom. In 1978 I was given the opportunity to work with a small group of teachers, starting a new public school in Mendocino County. The students' skills were so diverse that we had to devise alternative methods of assessment so their learning and understanding could be accurately measured. I didn't know at the time that this would become an all consuming passion.

I returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to continue teaching in high school and expanding my repertoire of skills in assessment. I experimented with single-subject portfolios, group testing, small projects, and field studies and modified them to meet the needs of a more culturally diverse student body. Four years ago I was presenting on portfolios in San Jose and was asked to join the Golden State Examination (GSE) Development team to develop a state-wide portfolio assessment model. I still give presentations on portfolios locally, nationally and internationally based on my 10 years of "hands-on" experience.

The GSE Portfolio project developed a model that was taught to and used by a number of teachers, schools, and districts. It has received state and national recognition for its clarity, inclusive assessment of skills and understanding, and reproducibility of results. We developed three portfolio entries with accompanying rubrics, standards, and self-reflection sheets. These stimulate students, from gifted to educationally challenged, to achieve to their potential. I am currently working on the national portfolio project through SACS and continue to modify and improve the portfolio that I use in my own classroom with my AP Biology and Biology students.


An Introduction to Science Portfolios
The Golden State Exam Science Portfolio Guide
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