Code Trail is Getting Steep

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We have been moving slow and steady up our code path for nine months now.  The trail is going higher and deeper into the trees. We just started a new path of Javascript and are feeling the burn in our legs as the incline increases. But we are making great progress every day.

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My http://www.codemoms.org site has been updated several times as we keep learning new skills.  Some highlights of my lessons these last couple of months are:  I  have learned that all code should be written as a mobile-first approach so handheld devices can easily navigate a site. I don’t know how many times I find a site that is not coded in mobile-first and I lose interest because I just can’t see it on my phone.

I also learned how to place a small sized background image on my website that wouldn’t slow bandwidth and would still fill the page.  I picked a mountain path, of course.  We’ve learned about command line coding and Sass.  Finally, codemoms.org passed the W3C Markup Validator, which meant my code was clear of errors.  When I first scanned it, I had 21 errors. So to clean it up and pass was very exciting.

A lot of these things we have learned at Treehouse. If we get stuck on a problem, we can find answers at online support sites like Stack Overflow, CSS Tricks, and WC3. Sharing knowledge and open source is the key to helping us learn and stay on the path.

Reflection at the Midway Point

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We are midway to our yearly goal of learning 500 hours of code. I stop on the trail and reflect on how far we’ve come. Even though we have learned a lot, we know that the mountaintop we seek is many miles ahead.  We won’t be there at 500 hours – not even close.  We know that there is no quick way up there – we just need to keep moving forward.  Already planning on our next 500 hours in 2015.

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Here at this point, we are happy to have learned so much so far:  HTML, CSS, Javascript and Photoshop. Our goal is take our time and retain this knowledge.  After we watch the tutorials, we take notes and practice, practice, practice.  We even give each other code challenges.  And then we practice more.  One thing that is clear to me right now:  the more we learn, the more we see how much more there is to learn.

A good method we found is the Three Steps to Retention”  1. Learn it;   2. Do it;   3. Teach it.  We keep cycling through these steps and it really helps us absorb what we are learning.  Working as a team helps us stay motivated and productive.

 

Learning by Doing

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We are taking steps each day to move up the code path.  To date, we have accumulated 70 hours of learning (our yearly goal is 500).  We are currently taking a CSS module with Treehouse.  After going through lessons on Selectors, Pseudo Selectors, Lists and Font Styles, my son and I decided to take an afternoon to practice what we learned so far.  My son worked on his web page and I updated our site at http://www.codemoms.org.  When I first launched it three weeks ago, my web page was made with only HTML code that had some in-line styling.  

Now that we had a bit of CSS under our belt, we were able to add color, style fonts and text, hover on hyper-links,  and make links active.  I had to go back through my notes to find out how to code what I wanted to do. It took longer than I expected but by “doing” it, we were learning.  I cannot stress how important it is to keep good notes and stay organized.   As I worked on CSS, it was exciting to try different codes and see them appear in the window.  We are at the beginning stages of our code path.  I know we have a long way to go on this journey with more challenging modules, but it is rewarding to actually create something with code that I can launch and see.  

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We like going up the path at our own pace, stopping to investigate, re-watching lessons as we need, taking the time to organize, and practicing what we learn.  Now we are ready for the next stretch.  Still on track.  Onward we go.

Learning Code – Keep on Trekking

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As we began our coding journey, I looked at the long road ahead and it looked a bit daunting.  My son wants a career in programming.  Me?  I’m just along for the ride (and to help).  But it wasn’t long before I discovered that I also like learning code.  I realized I’m really not too old to learn a new skill.

Keep on Trekking

So now we look at the path ahead.  How do we get from “wanting” to be software engineers to “becoming” them?  How do we successfully reach the summit of mastering code?  Over my life, I have learned that when confronted with a monumental challenge, it is best to take small steps and pace yourself, and above all – keep on trekking.

So we made a contract with each other, and so far, we have been on a steady incline up the path.  Here is what we agreed:

1. Designate 2-4 hours a day to code.  By learning code for at least two hours a day (up to four if we are on a roll), we know that we are taking small steps and over time, those steps will all add up.

2. Keep a journal.  This is basically our road map.  It has a daily schedule, a monthly summary, it keeps track of our progress, it notes hours spent coding and the computer languages we are learning (currently javascript), as well as listing other classes taken on on line platforms (like math, english, humanities, etc).

3. Work as a team.  Just like having a workout buddy at the gym, being a coding team keeps us trekking the steady climb.  When I originally volunteered to pair code with my son, I thought I would be tutoring him because I am older and wiser, but half the time he is helping me.  He “gets” things I don’t see and vice-versa.  We discuss problems and learn together.  Working as a team keeps us motivated and successful.  Two heads are definitely better than one when learning code.

The trek continues…..

Why Do a Blog about Being a Code Mom?

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I have been keeping a journal on our progress since day one.  It has only been a few months, but we have learned A LOT!  Not only are we learning how to code, but we are also learning how to navigate through the online ocean of information, finding jewels of education, resources, classes and support.

Our school doesn’t teach computer science, but we are learning solo with success, all online.  This blog is intended to share our story with other moms who are helping their children learn computer science. It is also my personal testimonial that “you’re never too old to code.”  I started out by being a support for my son, and soon discovered that I can code too (and I like it!).

So if you are a mom who wants to help your child learn computer science, or a mom who wants to learn to code herself (a great skill to have if you decide to re-enter the workforce later), this blog’s for you.  Thanks for visiting.

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