Every month we have a new Writing Project, usually to go with the month's theme. This was December's Project, but it could be used for other times of the year. With every project I also try to create a focus on a type of convention for the kids to work on. This project focuses on the main idea and details. The project is broken up into three paragraphs, and has a detailed checklist to help keep them on track as well as independent. There are also two different kinds of brainstorms.
Also because students work on many different levels, I have created 3 different versions of the rough draft format. The version I use with my special needs students is the one with the paragraphs broken down into sentences with prompts and clarifying questions. There is also a version with just prompts for higher level students, as well as blank paragraph forms for the really independent, self-motivated students.
The Pen is Mightier, is all about creating a joy for writing as well as teaching students conventions and format.