Week 10: I Have Some Notes

Wall of Post-It Notes.

I have learned a lot in 10 weeks of teaching myself to program. Not only have I learned things like the box model, responsive design, and JavaScript arrays, but I have also learned how to manage my time and how to retain information better. One of the biggest takeaways for me from this whole experience has been the importance of quality note taking.

When I first started I took detailed notes using Google Docs. At that time I was working on Codecademy courses, which are all text based.

Once I started, to realize how much time I was spending taking notes it occurred to me that I could just copy/paste much of the information straight from the Codecademy slides. It is no surprise that this is when my JavaScript troubles started and in hindsight, it is easy to see why.

Everyone learns differently but for me, the act of writing down information, or is this case typing it, is a key step in retaining that information.

By copying/pasting notes from the slides, I was removing a major component of my learning process. Once I realized that, I went back to writing my own notes, but with a twist: I started writing them in a code editor.

Taking all these notes does increase the amount of time it takes to complete a lesson but I feel like I am retaining information better as a result.

Code Every Day

Another critical step in the learning process is to code every day.

Working on lessons is great but don’t stop there. Reinforce what you are learning by doing some real coding. This could mean working on a full-blown project like a Portfolio page for freeCodeCamp (which I finished last week) or it could just be a simple exercise based on something you learned yesterday. Either way, code every day.

One of the things that I like about Treehouse, is that they periodically email you small coding projects based on lessons you have recently completed. Here is an example of one they sent out after I completed a section on JavaScript Functions:

Notes on Treehouse Function Exercise

These are fairly simple exercises but they allow you to practice writing code for what you are learning. They also require a little bit of research as well (just like “real” coding). In the¬†case of this particular task, Math.PI and Math.pow weren’t covered in the lessons.

A great way to make coding a daily habit is to take the #100DaysOfCode Challenge. You can learn more about my 100 Days of Code journey in last week’s post.

Have I mentioned I am working on JavaScript?

With my Portfolio project finally finished, I was able to resume my lessons on freeCodeCamp – which just so happened to be on JavaScript. I was already working on JavaScript at Treehouse so Week 10 was a lot of JavaScript.

The good news is JS is clicking for me much better the second time around. Even though I felt lost in a lot of ways the first time I worked on JavaScript, I have been surprised at how much of it was still floating around my brain.

What will Week 11 hold? There is only one way to find out.

See you next week!

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Author: Lee

Hi, my name is Lee and I am a 40-something who recently made the decision to become a self-taught programmer. This site was set up to chronicle that journey and my experiences along the way. Feel free to contact me with any comments, questions, or suggestions.

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