We use the Lucy Calkins Units of Study as the backbone of our writing program.  The progression throughout the years is as follows:

Personal Narratives: students write small-moment stories, reflecting on real-life experiences.  Beginning the year with this genre allows students to hone their writing style skills, which are then transferred throughout the year to other genres.

Literary Essay: this genre of writing, which has a focus on creating strong arguments, is taught once during the second quarter and then again at the end of third quarter.  The first round focuses on analyzing characters and their motivations.  This analysis allows students to create claims and support their thinking using evidence from the text, and apply those arguments to a traditional essay format.  The second round of essay is similar, but this time, students are expected to analyze the themes of two related texts, and use the format of an essay to compare and contrast.

Research-Based Informational Writing: This genre is explored twice as well, once at the beginning of third quarter and once at the end of the year.  The first informational piece requires students to use teacher-curated sources to create a book or presentation about a teen activist.  The second round is much the same, but students research an aspect of the Civil War.