A couple months ago, Ms. Pulignano's first grade class started a letter-writing unit in which students learned proper letter format and practiced writing letters.
As an extension of the lessons, the students wrote letters to Jason Mraz, the Grammy-winning musician. He was chosen, as one of their class "brain break" songs is a cheerful and uplifting chorus of one of his songs. As a class, they thought it would be fun to tell "Mr. Mraz" they liked his song. This celebrity recipient also led them to discuss how to write a letter to someone famous/someone you do not personally know, as it requires a different mindset.
"After the letters were mailed, we were unsure if we would receive a response," said Ms. Pulignano. "It was fun to be thinking of the letters we sent off and the anticipation of them arriving. We talked as a class about how it feels to have to wait (snail mail!) since they are all so used to instantly knowing things."
Good news of the arrival came fast! Ms. Pulignano received a message from Jason Mraz's staff member that Jason had received the the letters, loved them so much, and wanted to meet her after his Broadway show in New York City. She shared with her students he had received the letters and loved them, but kept the latter a surprise.
According to Ms. Pulignano, "Upon meeting Jason, it was clear he had genuinely taken time to read each of the kids' letters. He told me how he has the booklet of letters in his dressing room and flips to a new letter each day for inspiration. WOW! Jason was impressed by how well the letters were written and structured. He also appreciated the thought that went into the questions the kids had asked him and was amused by the specificity, like "Do you like or love ice cream?" He signed a photo for the class and even made a video for us!"
Her students could not believe it when she surprised them with the full story and personal video and photo. They wrote thank-you letters for the video and picture and had fun lesson tracking their package along the way, as this coincided with their in-class mail/post office reading story.
"From my view, it has been wonderful to see how this whole unique experience has made letter-writing authentic and purposeful for the children. It has provided so many teaching opportunities along the way. While we have all been inspired by the kindness "Mr. Mraz" has shown, I have been inspired by the love and thoughtfulness of each child. I hope the kids will continue to be inspired to write letters to others and spread their "positive vibes," as Jason says."