As my students get ready to transition to second grade, I want their writing to be the best it can be. We use Lucy Calkins' Units of Study, and the grade-level specific ones new this year are amazing.
To help boost my students' writing levels, I've started using ladders, or learning progressions, with my students.
We studied two pieces of writing from the CD that comes with the units. They have great student samples by genre and grade level. I selected a kindergarten and a second grade piece to compare (since the differences were more clear). We looked at the kindergarten piece after a few basic lessons, and discussed what the wetter did well. Then, we studied the second grade piece, and students discussed the improvements. We've been doing this across genres and it seems to be helping!
Some more charts from our opinion writing unit (all from Lucy):
If you are looking to learn more, check out this video from Teachers College: