Today, they are going to use their map and draft the essay.
Before they do so, I give them a brief presentation on what I call "O'Brien's Laws" -- really, just a collection of tips about essay writing. I try to make it funny so they remember it -- somehow, passing out a list of tips just isn't the way to spark an 8th grader's attention.
The rest of the class period is spent "crafting and drafting." [The room tends to be strangely quiet, and -- in the best of all possible worlds -- no one accidentally deletes their draft by highlighting the text and leaning on the spacebar twice.]
In the Resources for this lesson, there are examples of both strong and weaker essays. Generally speaking, the key is in the organization, which goes back to planning. At this stage in their academic careers, students who excel have already mastered the rudimentary aspects of essay construction and have moved on to the development of style.