This year I started with topic sentences from an outline as the basis for our essay writing. The writing was SO much better than trying to start from an introduction and work our way down. We had invested so much time in research and understanding the content, they were naturally ready to write the body of the essay to respond to the prompts provided. Now, we are developing our introductory and concluding paragraphs with the meat of our essays pretty much done.
There are three different levels of essay outlines for those who need more guided questions and those who are able to plan and prepare on their own.