Sunday, November 25, 2018

Teaching the teacher - Humble Bundle, Meetup

One of the wonderful things about teaching has to be the periodic breaks.  Pinnacle Charter School is coming to the end of a full week of Fall Break (what I would have called Thanksgiving Break when I went to school).  It was a week to rest, catch up with friends, eat too much turkey, and even to start learning a bit about some new technology -- a little do-it-yourself professional development.

Next year I will be expanding on the nine weeks of Web Design in the Exploring Computer Science class to a full semester of Web Design  class including JavaScript.  Since I have not used JavaScript before it means that I get to learn something new.  My goal is to get a decent understanding of the language, find a set of tools that my students can use, and find places where I and my students can do more.  I am picking up this new technology by going through a book I picked up on Humble Bundle earlier this year; and I am getting hands on experience by learning from others at a JavaScript Meetup which was a new experience.

Humble Bundle

I learned about Humble Bundle last year listening to a podcast, Programming Throwdown (https://www.programmingthrowdown.com/).  It's a monthly (sometimes more sometimes less) podcast that covers a wide range of programming languages, tools, and personalities.  One of the podcasters mentioned getting the bundle each month.

Humble Bundle (https://www.humblebundle.com/) is a website that offers games, books, tools, etc.  They come out with a group of related materials and bundle them together for incredibly low prices -- as low as $1 USD for the first bundle.  They offer additive bundles on the topic for increasing (but still very low) prices.  Earlier this year I purchased a group of books from the Head First series.  I had a paper copy of Head First Java and bought the full bundle of O'Reilly Media books which included one on JavaScript.

I started reading the Head First JavaScript book at the beginning of break and decided that this was going to be a good reference and way for me to learn about the important parts of the language and try some simple projects.  But it didn't answer my question of tools and other ways to get experience, so I wanted to find another way to do this which led me to a Meetup.

Meetup

Grab some coffee and your laptop -- JavaScript Meetup
I don't recall where I first learned about Meetups but had looked at computer science Meetups in the Denver area.  I found one on Python which looked interesting and also one on JavaScript which was exactly what I was looking for.  It advertised itself as "Bootcampers Collective presents our new weekly JavaScript meetup in Denver. We'll be meeting weekly on Tuesdays to work on various projects, kata/whiteboarding, code challenges, and more."  I thought that a bootcamp was just what I needed.  However, to me meetups felt like a millenial kind of thing and going to a strange part of the city to meet with people I didn't know was not exactly in my comfort zone.  Nevertheless, I went and was pleasantly surprised.

The people at the meetup ranged from current IT professionals that wanted to expand their knowledge and learn JavaScript to beginners currently in other fields that were looking to move into IT as a career change.  After introductions, we sat down to work on a problem together.  Someone chose FizzBuzz which was great for me.  It was something I had done as an assignment for my AP CSA students during the lesson on loops, so I felt comfortable with how to solve the problem.  That left learning how to code it in JavaScript.  As an added bonus, we needed to put the results in a array.  I was able to contribute which felt good and learn something new at the same time -- Hey!  I think there might be something good for my students in that statement.

While working the problem I asked alot of questions about favorite tools to code JavaScript -- Visual Studio Code (https://code.visualstudio.com/); a good place for JavaScript reference material -- Mozilla's Developer Network for Java Script (https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/JavaScript); and a good learn on my own website -- Free Code Camp (https://learn.freecodecamp.org).  Now I feel armed to learn some more on my own. 

Well, that's my excusion into do-it-yourself Professional Development!

Image from pexels.com

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