Hi, I'm Ms. Finnigan!

Hello, I'm Ms. Finnigan! I've been teaching homeschooled students online since 2008. For nine years (2013-22), I taught at Kolbe Academy Online, where my classes were very popular.

In 2023, I started Teach to the Text and was blessed to be able to teach a group of wonderful high school students from Minnesota. They convened with their homeschooling co-op in a local church, jumped on their computers, and I taught them from Colorado.

Last year we focused on argumentative essays. This fall, we're going to study the art of speechmaking with Aristotle's Rhetoric. What better time to study this than in an election year? Some assignments might be tied in with watching the speeches and debates!

This is going to be a great class. The co-op is called SCOPE, and they have given me permission to open up this class to other online students who may want to participate. Because of this partnership, I am able to offer this class at a great price! But the registration process will be a little different than it is with my regular classes. You will have to register through SCOPE first.

Course Details

What: A live, online, high school class

Length: One semester (15 weeks)

Time: Tuesdays, 9 a.m. Pacific, 12 noon Eastern

Dates: Sep. 10 - Dec. 17

9/10, 9/17, 9/24
10/1, 10/8, 10/15, 10/22, 10/29 11/5, 11/12, 11/19, 11/26
12/3, 12/10, 12/17

Open to: 9th-12th grade*

*Ideal for 11th-12th. A solid basis in five-paragraph essay writing with a focus on argumentation is recommended as a prerequisite. Reach out to Ms. Finnigan with any questions about whether this would be right for your student!

Required Text:

Rhetoric by Aristotle (must be purchased separately)

Course Description:

Rhetoric is the study of effective persuasion through speaking or writing. This course will build on the techniques of argumentation that were learned by the students in the 2023-24 school year.

Students will study the art of argumentation through speech. We will not read the whole course text, only one half to two thirds. Reading assignments will be short, but dense.

Students will also be asked to read and analyze some famous speeches. In lieu of reading assignments, on some weeks, the students may be asked to watch videos of famous speeches (or, since it is an election year, Presidential debates!)

Students will learn:

  • the syllogism as the building block of logic;
  • the role of logos, pathos, and ethos in a speech;
  • the difference between ceremonial, political, and forensic speeches;
  • the different emotional appeals;
  • Cicero’s Six Moves;
  • and a variety of rhetorical devices.

Students will write and deliver one or two speeches with minor writing assignments leading up to the speech(es). Each speech will be delivered live in front of the class on a topic of the student’s choosing (must be approved by Ms. Finnigan).

The written speech and the delivered speech will be graded separately. (Students will be encouraged to deliver their speech in class, but will be allowed to submit a video for the class to watch instead, for a point deduction.) 


All families must pay an $80 registration fee to register with SCOPE. (If you are only taking this one class online, the other co-op fees, such as building use fee and volunteer fee, will be waived.)

Basic course is $110. This includes:

  1. the live classes and class discussions
  2. enrollment in an online course, where students will take auto-graded quizzes to test their understanding of the reading, and
  3. grading on the final speeches (written and verbal).

For an additional $85, students can turn in weekly assignments for written feedback from the teacher, and access teacher Office Hours.


Email Anne at [email protected] before registering with SCOPE on the website so that she can adjust the invoice to reflect only the membership fees. For more information about SCOPE, go here!

For questions about the curriculum or whether this class would be right for your child, email Ms. Finnigan at [email protected].

If you are interested in an asynchronous or independent study version of this course (minus the tie-ins with the election), contact Ms. Finnigan to be notified when it becomes available. (ETA January 2025) [email protected]
"...political orators often make any concession short of admitting that they are recommending their hearers to take an inexpedient course or not to take an expedient one. The question of whether it is not unjust for a city to enslave its innocent neighbors often does not trouble them at all."
- Aristotle