As a medievalist, I love teaching old texts, but I realize that they can be challenging for students and teachers alike.
I developed this introductory exercise, which requires students to grapple with a medieval text, as a way for students to experience first-hand how older texts are both familiar and strange. By working through the text as a class, first focusing on what is familiar to them and then gradually grasping what is new, students gain the confidence to read older literature. At the same time, they learn the valuable lesson that medieval people were not modern people in period costume; they were fundamentally different in many of their worldviews and beliefs.
It is my foolproof opener for a unit on Old English literature, and I have used it successfully for many years in both standard and AP English classes.