Writing templates are not really cheats for kids. Some teachers feel templates hold back their students from writing in their own words. But...I have found that they do more good than harm, as long as they are not overused. After all, they do help the hesitant writers. They are simply tools to help expose them to vocabulary, text structure, as well as faciliate their reading. Once they've finished their story using a template, students are surprised to find that they can read the story or passage more fluently. The extra exposure makes them feel successful. Then soon enough, they'll want to write some more!
Check out this excellent website for teachers who are looking for resources at www.teacherspayteachers.com. Also, I have some reading freebies at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Karen-Gomez.