The Final Stage
Proofreading involves going over your paper with a fine-toothed comb to find spelling and grammatical errors and other mistakes. Often this is best done by having students switch papers with their neighbor. While they can and should learn to find their own mistakes, it is beneficial to look at a paper with fresh eyes, and looking at someone else's work gives them this edge. Likewise, it is a learning experience to hear what others think of their writing, if they are communicating ideas the way they intended to, and they are getting valuable feedback.
However, since everyone in the class is also learning, especially in a class of special learners, it is important that teachers carefully monitor the situation so that they catch mistakes other students might tell them, in terms of grammar use, spelling, and other aspects.
Keep resources always handy as students proofread, such as dictionaries, spell-checkers, and other tools.
Technology such as Microsoft Word automatically does the spell and grammar check for them and this is certainly a plus. So have them copy their sentences into Word before final publication, to do a spelling and grammar check. Remind them, however, that MS Word does not catch all errors and they must also think for themself in terms of what looks correct in the final analysis.
Typing the essay into MS Word is also a great way to publish the final draft, and gives students with special needs a sense of pride in seeing their work in print. Keep in mind that although students will have access to Word Processing programs in the real world, when they prepare letters, resumes, or other writing projects, they will not have such access on a standardized test. So it is still to their advantage to learn to do it both ways.
Once students are finished, have them share their final essays with the class. I have seen a student's eyes light up who thought they couldn't write a thing before that, when their peers clapped and hoorayed after they read their essay. You can teach 100 years and never forget the feeling you get when you witness this transformation.
Once students have learned to go through all the steps of writing, and applied all the different types of writing and components of writing to their work, you should start to see a marked improvement in their overall writing ability. Like anything else, writing is both an art and a science. An art, you are born with, but a science can be learned.