Today I started discussion of Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" with a brain-storming exercise before even touching on the text. I asked a simple question: "What can make a person feel like a bug?" Students responded, and we had all sorts of possibilities written on one side of the board.
My second exercise was as simple: I read the first sentence of the story, and then asked students to give me all their impressions or observations of this sentence (though I asked some questions about the sentence, and included some observations of my own). I wrote these thoughts on the other side of the board.
At this point, most (though not all) of the story's main issues are written on the board. Now we'll be discussing some of these issues with close attention to the text.
Teaching isn't always this easy, but sometimes it works out that way.
I will probably do the same sentence exercise for the last (amazing) sentence that I did for the first. That last sentence is loaded with knockout power.