As an intor to Beowulf, I group the students into threes. each group is given a plain piece of white paper and some colored pencils. The students receive an outline form on which the group must decide the characteristics of a hero. The physical images that this hero would possess to reflect those qualities. Collaboratively the group must draw the image to reflect the qualities their hero possesses. The qualities are to be listed on the paper surrounding the drawing. After 15-20minutes the groups come together in a circle and each group presents their pictue and explains why the choice of characterisitics. We discuss culture and the evolution of what a hero is and what a hero used to be.
This leads into the heoic characterisitcs of Beowulf. As we begin reading we compare the student heroes to Beowulf.
We usually post the heroes around the classroom and then as the reading and discussion continues we in subsequently discuss how the characterisitcs of the heroes reflect the culture.
This discussion has become especially relevant since 9/11.