I've noticed that with my new students, it takes a few assignments before they feel like everything is going well. New students don't seem to get it until after a few assignments. Before that, they are always asking, "What's the answer?" Maybe this is the same feeling that a few of your students are having. There is no "one" answer with open-ended questions, and this may be the main issue your students are going to have to understand, but it will take time. As far as the graphic organizers are concerned, it may be that students are not used to pulling out the most important information from a non-fictional text. This takes practice, and it is not always easy.
For the first writtten assignment, I strongly recommend that you write in class. Review with the students possible correct essays. The main thing with the first or second assignment, is that they see the possible different answers and learn how to support their answers with evidence. Make the first draft a rough draft. Read it but don't put a grade on it. Let the students rewrite it.
If you are beginning class in September, everything seems to calm down right before Thanksgiving.