It’s just natural. No matter what type of assignment you give some students will finish faster than others. There’s no way to create an assignment that everyone will finish together.
And I think it’s probably more noticeable in computer science than other subjects. CompSci is one of those subjects that some students just naturally get while some struggle.
So the option becomes either to leave those struggling behind, which is a terrible idea, or give those that finish quickly some type of enrichment activity. Here’s a list of activities that I give my students for when they’re done early.
I’m going to list this one first since it’s where most students go when they’re done with assignments.
Code Combat is an online game where you explore a world using code. Students will type commands to lead their character through the world, solving problems along the way.
CodingBat is a site written by a computer science lecturer at Stanford where you can work on your coding skills by implementing small methods in either Java or Python.
The biggest advantage here is that you can focus on just the method and not worry about any of the overhead of Java when you’re working. Some problems have solutions that you can view, a few have hints, and there is a really good set of help pages.
LightBot is one that your students will probably grow out of quickly, but it’s a lot of fun early in the year. The goal is to program a little robot to turn on all of the lights on a map. To finish all the maps they’ll need to write loops, methods, and even a bit of recursion.
For their site:
Launched in 2013, Code.org is a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Our vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science. We believe computer science should be part of core curriculum, alongside other courses such as biology, chemistry or algebra.
On the site there are all sorts of lessons, in all levels, that your students can work through to practice their coding skills.
From their about page:
Project Euler is a series of challenging mathematical / computer programming problems that will require more than just mathematical insights to solve. Although mathematics will help you arrive at elegant and efficient methods, the use of a computer and programming skills will be required to solve most problems.
Codecademy looks to be geared towards older students and adults. There aren’t as many games and graphic type assignments, but what is there does get relatively deep into coding.