Upcoming Theme Workshops

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I realized recently that when I used to run my own web development business, I was always good about letting people know ahead of time about things I’d be doing in the future. Once I started working at Automattic, I stopped doing that as often, and instead mainly write about things I’ve already done. I’m going to break that habit today, and let you know where you can catch me at two upcoming events!

Getting Comfortable With Child Themes

Tuesday August 8, 6:30-9:30pm ET

I’ll be giving a workshop on creating child themes with WordPress at this year’s WordCamp Montréal. The cost is CA$10, and you need to buy a ticket in advance. Not sure what a child theme is or why you’d want to make one? Check out all the details.

We’ll be offering all sorts of other useful WordPress-related workshops that week, culminating in the two-day WordCamp Montréal event over the weekend of August 12-13. Hope to see you there!

The Developer’s Guide to Supporting Your Themes

Wednesday, August 23, 2017, 16:00 UTC (12:00 ET)

Not in Montréal? I’ll be offering a free online workshop on improving your support skills as a theme developer. While geared to theme support specifically, many of the skills will be relevant to other types of support, so if you’re a plugin developer or volunteering in the WordPress.org or .com forums, you’ll likely pick up some tips as well. Learn more and join us!

featured image by Nic Price (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Press Publish Portland

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If you’re into WordPress, you’ve likely heard of WordCamps – grassroots events held around the world, with sessions aimed at developers, designers, and users of the WordPress open-source software. You may also have heard about tech-heavy WordPress conferences like LoopConf or business-focused ones like PressNomics.

Last week, a brand new WordPress event called Press Publish made its debut in Portland, Oregon, and I was lucky to be a part of it. An initiative of Automattic, the conference mixed advice and inspiration for bloggers with tips on making the most of WordPress. It was jam-packed with motivating talks, from speakers like Erick Prince-Heaggans, a travel blogger and photojournalist, and Ananda Leeke, a “yoga, creativity, and Internet geek,” both of whom I had the pleasure to chat with during the course of the event.

I loved being involved in Press Publish – from meeting WordPress users of all levels and helping them at the Happiness Bar, to bonding with my fellow Automatticians. Oh yeah, I also gave some talks and workshops! My short presentation Wild About Widgets was recorded, and the video should be out in a few weeks. I gave a workshop on using the WordPress Customizer with Sheri Bigelow and another on mastering menus and widgets. My colleague Michelle Langston and I ran an intro workshop on CSS, putting together a reference site and demo where we showed examples of how you can tweak your site with CSS to get it looking exactly how you want.

The next Press Publish is on April 18 in Phoenix. If you’re anywhere in the area I hope you’ll consider attending. I’d love to meet you!

I had a comment after my Hawaii post that there were no photos of me. I hope this one makes up for that. 🙂 Thanks to Josh Root and Anne McCarthy for some of the pics.

WordPress for Beginners

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Earlier this month I gave a free, two-hour intro to WordPress workshop at YES Montreal. It was part of their women and technology program, geared to helping folks find technology-related jobs or start their own business.

I love teaching beginners – guiding people to those “lightbulb” moments when they finally understand the difference between posts and pages, tags and categories, or some other WordPress particularity.

While I enjoy watching the participants pick up a ton of knowledge, I’ll admit that I have an ulterior motive for doing these workshops. Once you’ve been using WordPress for a while, it becomes easy to forget what it’s like to learn all this stuff from scratch – the sense of overwhelm, the “why isn’t it simpler” frustration. As someone who does tech support for a living, I find it immensely valuable to have my beginner-memory refreshed once in a while. Being surrounded by people just learning the ins and outs of WordPress reminds me that not much is as obvious as it seems after using a tool for a while and becoming completely comfortable with it. These intro workshops are like getting a WordPress-empathy booster shot.


I’ve brought over two pages devoted to WordPress resources for beginners that had been living on another site: WordPress Resources Online, and WordPress Resources in Person. Feel free to check them out and pass them on.

WordPress workshop at YES Montreal

Photo by Alex Ruaux

 

Girls Learning Code Day 2014

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girls learning code resultsOn November 8, nineteen cities across Canada – from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to Whitehorse, Yukon – hosted free events for National Girls Learning Code Day, a Ladies Learning Code initiative. I had the pleasure of mentoring at the English HTML and CSS workshop at Google’s Montreal office, while others volunteered at the French workshop a few blocks away.

Twenty girls aged 8-13 – supported by an array of moms, dads, aunts, and other grownups – took over the Googlers’ colourful conference and dining area. Several mothers told me their kids had dragged them here, their husbands usually being the techies in the family. I was glad their daughters persisted since I think the moms learned a lot too!

Throughout the day, the girls used Mozilla Thimble, a free tool that provides a side-by-side real-time preview while building a site. We went over basic HTML tags, using lots of easy-to-understand analogies and interactive questions at each step. Over the course of the morning, we built out a brilliant analogue web page on a big white board, to help visualize HTML page structure. Lead instructor Alex Ruaux kept the day lively, adding CSS to the mix after a kid-friendly lunch of pizza and (yes! guilty pleasure!) Rice Krispie squares. Other treats for the kids included stickers, funky “style your code” tattoos,” silicone wristbands, and even a Google loot bag laden with sunglasses and more goodies.

At the end of the day, each girl – except the shyest ones – got up and presented the web page they’d spent the day creating. From a dog-walking business to a compendium of April Fool’s stunts, to expressing their love for Super Cats, horses, dolphins, and of course, Minecraft, the girls’ passion for both their subject matter and the sites they’d built was clear.

Ladies Learning WordPress

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Yesterday I had the huge pleasure of mentoring at another Ladies Learning Code workshop, led by the multi-talented Elida Arrizza. This one was very close to my heart, since it was WordPress for Beginners.

The 40 participants learned a ton throughout the day, from installing WordPress locally, to getting a handle on The Loop, through customizing a theme.

Ladies Learning Code WordPress Agenda

The Day’s Agenda

Have a peek at the slides and learner files on Github and some of the day’s tweets:

I’ve had a blast mentoring with Ladies Learning Code and look forward to more events in the fall. Special thanks to Nancy Naluz for bringing LLC to Montreal and doing a fabulous job organizing the workshops.

Learning from Beginners

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Ladies Learning CodeI spent yesterday mentoring an eclectic group of students at a Ladies Learning Code workshop, which introduced HTML and CSS – the building blocks of web design – to a roomful of 40 eager learners. LLC is an amazing cross-Canada nonprofit – with chapters from Newfoundland to Victoria – “working to empower everyone to feel comfortable learning beginner-friendly technical skills in a social, collaborative way.”

There was one mentor for every four to five participants – an incredible ratio that allowed us to spend plenty of hands-on time with each student, giving more one-on-one attention to those who needed it.

My group included a Java programmer who’d barely touched HTML before but caught on quickly; a graphic designer encouraged by her company to learn more about what happens to her mockups after they get sent to the website integrators; a married couple consisting of a PhD film student and a social-media specialist at a nonprofit (the couple that learns to code together stays together?); and a Master of Library & Information Studies student who realized she needed to up her game on the tech front, with her school symbolically about to dump the word “Library” from the program’s name.

Venturing outside my usual sphere of WordPress geeks was refreshing. It reminded me that more people than I think use PCs. That not all men taught themselves programming at age eleven. That semi-colons are darned important. That the music HTML and CSS make together is magical. That watching people have lightbulb moments never gets old. That getting women excited about technology is a worthy endeavour.

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