I use my Of Mice and Men unit to focus in on the writing process.
Before writing a whole essay, we first start off with writing paragraphs.
This short timed writing (I give 20-25 minutes) provides a passage to which they write a structured paragraph response.
You then can truly hone in one their writing since you can quickly see their weaknesses without grading pages upon pages. I have a series of these that I you may order as well.
Two rubrics are provided. The first is a simple one to check that they fully understand how to write a structured paragraph. I tend to use the second one that I based off of an AP rubric which ensures the students use a higher level of analysis (for my advanced classes.)
It is a word document so feel free to adjust it to meet the needs of your classroom.