Sophie C. Degener


Associate Professor, Reading & Language
Co-Coordinator, Reading Program

Programs/Classes Taught:

B.A. in Elementary Education M.A.T. in Elementary Education M.Ed. in Reading Ed.D. in Reading and Language PRE-SERVICE COURSES: LAE-307, Literature for Children RLL-480A, Teaching Reading and Language Arts RLL-538, Literacy Methods I, K-4 RLL-539, Literacy Methods II, Grades 5-9 RLL-540, Methods and Materials for Teaching Reading and Language Arts (Alternative Certification) READING PROGRAM COURSES: RLR-501, Teaching Beginning Reading RLR-513, Diagnosis and Correction for the Older Student RLR-592A & B, Practicum in Remedial Reading RLR-593, Seminar in Reading Research DOCTORAL COURSES: RLD-601, Research in Early Literacy

Areas of Expertise:

Family Literacy, Early Literacy, Differentiated Instruction, Balanced Literacy, Pre-service literacy instruction


Dr. Sophie Degener joined the faculty of the reading and language program at National Louis University in 2006. She teaches classes in beginning reading, reading research, and literacy methods to undergraduates, masters students and doctoral students. She is also the coordinator for the pre-service reading program. Her research interests include family literacy, primary literacy instruction, and teacher education.

Prior to her work as a professor, she taught in the Evanston Public Schools. Her work with readers of all abilities and their families has motivated her interest in helping educators understand the unique needs and circumstances of every student in order to design instruction, using high quality materials, that best meets those needs. She does professional development work with local schools to help teachers and administrators understand and implement balanced literacy instruction that reflects current understandings of best practice, especially in differentiated instruction, guided reading, and writing.

Dr. Degener is Associate Editor for the Illinois Reading Council Journal, co-editing and writing the quarterly Professional Development column. She has recently co-authored three books on differentiated reading instruction with Jennifer Berne:

Responsive Guided Reading in Grades K-5: Simplifying Small Group Instruction, published in 2010 by Guilford Press; and

Strategic Reading Groups: Guiding Readers in the Middle Grades, published in 2012 by Corwin Press.

The One-on-One Reading and Writing Conference: Working with Students on Complex Texts, published in 2015 by Teachers College Press.


2006 Ed.D. Language and Literacy Harvard University Graduate School of Education

1990 M.A.T. Elementary Education National-Louis University

1988 B.A., Cum Laude, English University of Vermont

Research and Interests:

Dr. Degener is currently conducting research in Chicago Public Schools, investigating how pre-service methods classes prepare teachers for their work in urban school settings. In addition, she is beginning a study that will look at teacher learning in classrooms implementing responsive guided reading.

Contact Information:

Sophie C. Degener 
Associate Professor, Reading and Language 



NATIONAL LOUIS UNIVERSITY | 5202 Old Orchard Road, #457, Skokie, Illinois 60076


    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
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    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
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    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
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    Established in 1988 and located in one of the city's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to six classrooms, this location features a conference room, a computer lab with high-speed Internet access, an extensive research library and comfortable student lounges.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
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